Friday, May 29, 2015

TWIT: The scandal behind the "Evolution"

The "Evolution" of TWIT Wankergate

I don't like to report rumors or present editorial opinion as fact.  If it's from the horses mouth I'll always give you a source.

So this latest wrinkle has me perplexed.  By now the TWIT UN-faithful have born witness to what promises to be the most lewd episode from Daddy Laporte yet.

That being, of course, the now infamous picture of someone's male genitalia showing up in Leo's Iphoto Album during Sunday's (5/24) Tech Guy radio broadcast. was on the scene and has provided photographic and video evidence of this latest debauchery by the TWIT front man.  Evidence that I prefer not to reproduce on this blog simply because I don't want to keep seeing it every time I go looking for an image for one of my articles.

Let's leave the elephant in the room for now and ignore the question of why a picture of somebody's junk is mixed into the family photo album.  I really don't care whose it is, it should never have been there especially on a device that could find it's way onto a live broadcast.

Nonetheless, there it was in all its sad glory.  Which apparently was the catalyst for everything that's transpired since.

Some are reporting that the coming changes to TWIT have since been cancelled.  As of this writing, however, I still see no official indication of that from any TWIT at TWIT.  We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Till then, here's a screenshot of the announcement posted on the Inside TWIT blog on the 27th.  Click on it to see a readable version.

Until TWIT indicates otherwise, it will have to serve as their official position.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The DE-Evolution of TWIT

4 Days....

You Have 4 days (assuming you care) to enjoy the last few hours of the TWIT you knew.  Starting June 1st TWIT is changing the rules.

"...we have recently decided to make a few changes that are going to affect our live audience.

Part of this is the TWiT chat room, which offers direct access to our hosts and guests. Our volunteer moderators have always been diligent 
[AKA draconian...] in keeping the chat on topic and not letting a few troublemakers [non-fanboys]
derail the discussion. But it's gotten to where moderating the chat and people's frustrations with that have become a distraction..." insideTWIT 5/27/15

You heard that right.  Gone will be the live chat room and with it a shakeup of the schedule (again) that will preclude the goings on behind the curtain that faithful viewers have come to expect. 

"This level of behind-the-scenes access also has another serious downside: Not everyone wants to spend their working hours under a microscope." inside TWIT 5/27/15

Uh, if you don't like people watching you then why are you working in a broadcast medium?

I've said before that the turning tide against TWIT likely came about because we saw too much of the sausage being made.  A privilege that showed us the stark contrast between who we thought we knew and who they really were.  The episodes of  sometimes callous and often creepy behavior were there for all to see free of any video editor's sanitizing.  Episodes of which Laporte frequently played a starring role.    

That can have an effect over time...

Most of us came to the network with a longing for what we'd lost when TechTV left the airwaves.  We missed the warm and friendly Laporte and co. solving all our techie woes.  It was with a gentle hand and a kind word that TechTV could console our geeky insecurities with the affirmation of, "It's not your fault!"

It was the first time that anyone bothered to embrace the geeks.  That guy on your TV actually knew what he was talking about without relying on the teleprompter for the answers.  He was one of us...

But perhaps that was just the naiveté  of someone who believed that anything they saw in a heavily scripted TV show could reflect the reality of its hosts.  It was a TV network after all albeit a small one.

It's a rare celebrity whose personality matches their public persona.  Sadly, that truth was evidenced by simply watching TWIT the past few years.  Many fans went from disillusionment to outright hatred of Laporte when the family friendly teddy bear of tech appeared to be anything but.

"The term "troll" gets thrown around a lot. We get it: it's the Internet, and trolls, snarkiness, and differing opinions come with the territory. But it seriously crosses a line when it becomes targeted harassment, cyberstalking...
" inside TWIT 5/27/15

Increasingly anyone with a modicum of intelligence would soon realize that despite claims to the contrary, TWIT was becoming less about the fans and more about the product.  A product based on a facade with Laporte plastered on it like Orville Redenbacher on a box of microwave popcorn.

Speaking of popcorn.  We've born witness to a network whose advertising used to be dominated by the likes of Ting and IFIXit now pushing mattresses and mail order gourmet whose only claim to tech is a website.

If the technology marketplace doesn't believe in what TWIT's doing why should anyone else?  Where are the Lenovo, HP, Apple and Microsoft ads?  You'd think the de facto "President of the Internet" would have tech companies beating down his door to buy advertising.

But Laporte claims there's a higher standard at play.  Apparently one that values shaving kits and granola bars over tech.

Perhaps the best evidence of the impending doom of TWIT comes with an ever increasing paranoia...

" As some of you may know, we received a bomb threat a few weeks ago--and this isn't the first, second, or even third instance of the sort that we've had to deal with. 

We've also had people show up at our house, we've received threatening phone calls and emails, had our comings and goings tracked, been doxxed, and had our personal information distributed. This isn't limited to our hosts: our guests, mods, staff, families, and sponsors have also been the targets of these threats and abuse."


" ...there are threats of violence--especially when your children are in the crosshairs. "Trolling" you can ignore, "stalking" is a different matter.

We take all of this very seriously. Being a target is scary and emotionally trying in a way that I wouldn't wish on anyone--and even more so when your friends and family are put at risk. We ask that you please respect any safeguards we must put in place as a result. Ultimately, we do believe this will result in a better TWiT experience for all.
" inside TWIT 5/27/15

We've moved from the delusional to the ridiculous.  TWIT has gone from the "CNN of tech" to the Fox News of tech.  

As though somehow criticism is equivalent to some Clear and Present Danger.  Sure, bomb threats happen and so does cyberbullying but everyone knows that if you put yourself out there it comes with the territory. 

I mean c'mon now, has Leo never looked at the comments on any of TWIT's YouTube videos?  Is a down vote now cause for a restraining order?

Or is Laporte finally circling the wagons in a desperate attempt to recapture the glory of his Tech TV days using this "abuse" as an excuse to shield TWIT from criticism.

In the end, we see TWIT moving toward the same "video on demand" model as other podcast providers meaning it's rapidly losing its niche.  

Ask all the former hosts of Revision 3 how well that model worked out for them.

There are far better sources for tech news (Have you seen Elgan?) and tech lifestyle programming out there.  TWIT has simply lost too much talent to survive on its content alone.

When the end finally comes for the podcasting network, shed no tears for TWIT. 

Leo's no Ben Kenobi and these are definitely not the droids you were looking for...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Letterman ends an era

The lights are out, the desk is clear and the empty chair is facing a partially disassembled New York Skyline.  There are hints of what was scattered everywhere but now they're just broken reflections of a shattered mirror.

At least that's how I picture it.

I don't live anywhere near New York but looking at a live shot of the now defunct marquee of Late Night with David Letterman had more meaning than I thought it would.  It's just a dumb late night variety show right?  There's dozens of them now...

Except that its passing only confirms what we already knew.  Letterman's final sign off signals the end of an era of television that punctuated entertainment with intelligence. 

No, I didn't watch every episode and Letterman's not my hero but watching his show was a kind of rite of passage for me.  Imagine being a 16 year old kid left home alone for a weekend for the first time with complete control of the TV remote and not about to hit the sack after the local news.  It was my choice and my taste for the first time. 

Over the years I watched on and off.  Even if I wasn't a faithful viewer, it was reassuring to know that Dave was there holding up his end of the conversation in an entertainment world populated by mindless sitcoms and reality TV.  There must have been something to it because Dave always seemed to be able to get the Presidents and seldom seen Hollywood hermit types that nobody else could.

Yes, we still have Jimmy Fallon, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel but they're of a different generation.  They all have their moments but those moments only come with the frequency of a sine wave instead of the steady state of Letterman.

Everything changes but the over the top antics and the short attention span theater of current Late Night entertainment is often just pale imitation in comparison.  Now it's about the 30 second video clip stuck on YouTube the next day with a nag card at the end saying " Watch (insert show here) on (insert network here) @ 11:30/10:30 Central."

Is it likely that any of them could earn a Peabody Award like Craig Ferguson's 2009 interview with Bishop Desmond Tutu?  Will they be able to console a wounded country like Letterman did a week after 9/11?

It's not likely, there's just no there, there.

Want proof?  Guess who was James Corden's guest tonight during his "Carpool Karaoke." 

Justin Bieber...

A display of a talent pool so shallow a cricket couldn't get wet.  This is the state of late night and if you like it you're welcome to it. 

I prefer to take my attention elsewhere.

Thanks for the memories Dave. 

Our only hope now is Stephen Colbert...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Phoenix... if you believe in stereotypes

I posted the following response to a YouTube video someone had put up about the "Pros and Cons of Phoenix."  I found it somewhat misleading and typical of the stereotypes you hear from people who really haven't spent much time here.  That the video was a glorified PowerPoint presentation with a voiceover didn't add to its credibility.

I'm the last person to defend the place and truth be told if finances allowed I'd rip up stakes in a heartbeat.  This state has been no friend to me but when I hear deliberate misinformation it annoys me to no end.  I've provided the video in question and my response to it.  If you really want to know what it's like to live in Phoenix, read the post that follows it.

My response:

"As someone who's lived in the Phoenix area since I was dragged here as a kid in 1971 I can say with authority that this video is somewhat lacking in content.

Let's start with all those great jobs she was talking about...I suppose if low wage jobs are your thing then jobs around Phoenix would seem plentiful.  I can tell you that for anything above flipping burgers the wages are absolute crap and so are the corporations that came here for just that reason.  Where do you think Michigan got it's ideas for union busting anyway?   

Cost of living may be lower than other places but so are the wages so it's not like everyone here can afford to just jump in the car and head to their luxurious cabin in Pinetop then take a jaunt over to the Canyon for some lunch.   The state's biggest employer is Wal-Mart so that should tell you something.  We used to have big companies here but most of them pulled out or scaled down in the 80's.  This state is only high tech if you think Best Buy is an indicator. 

 The majority of jobs are either retail or healthcare to take care of all those "snow birds."  Those wages are depressed compared to other places as well.  Want to be a teacher?  Try 35K a year to start and maybe you'll get to 45K if you stay for 10 years.   35K a year doesn't buy much of a house when median prices are 250K for anything but a shack in a bad neighborhood that's a bloody 2 hour commute with gas prices anywhere from $2.50 to $5.00 a gallon depending on who farted in Iraq today.  

Let's also not forget about our beloved Sheriff Joe whose corrupt administration has the feds and the ACLU setting up permanent offices just to keep an eye on him.  Socially and politically Arizona is the Mississippi of the Southwest.  We make Texas look progressive by comparison.  Nothing gets done around here unless there's a greased palm and plenty of photo ops for someone's coffee table book.  

But I digress...

The weather is what it is, it's a freaking desert you know.  You completely forgot to mention the monsoons which make it more humid but it does cool us off from July to September.  Late May through mid July are usually the hottest months.  What really irritates me though is that this city including all the other satellite cities that surround it has done absolutely nothing to combat sprawl.  The people with money here are the developers and they'll put up a 15 story office building just for the hell of it.  Then we got all of the refuges from California in the 90's and doubled the population.  

Now we have freeways that look like the 405 6 hours a day and even more competition for the few good paying jobs available. 

Traffic is bloody awful and the combination of Midwest and California drivers makes any trip an adventure.  Either they're going too fast, too slow or both while they babble on endlessly on their cellphones.  Traffic is bad everywhere but it's doubly so here because you never know what to expect depending on what part of the valley you're in.  It can take over an hour to get from Mesa to NW Phoenix on a Saturday evening.  

A trip of less than 50 miles on freeways with a 65MPH speed limit on a weekend day because of the equivalent of an early morning weekday rush hour at 5PM on a Saturday!  Let's not even talk about the elephant in the room.  The fact that 4 million people depend on a water source fought over by 4 states and the western half of the country is in a severe drought!  Are you people freaking nuts?  It's only a matter of time before the chamber of commerce has to admit that there's not enough water to sustain this many people. 

As for the people, yeah Scottsdale and the Biltmore area have their noses in the air like any wealthy zip code but there's far more zip codes that average less than 25K a year in wages meaning there's lots of places you don't walk to dog at night.  Most people are friendly enough on a superficial level but don't expect  much more than that.  People are usually very transient only sticking around a few years before bouncing off to the next new subdivision.  Everyone works very hard to keep up appearances even if they can't afford it.  That's what Phoenix is.  I don't know where this lady was living."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Never give yourself the opportunity to do nothing.

At times I get annoyed with myself.  Maybe I didn't get the house cleaned up or the car washed, it doesn't matter.  It's not the thing that I should have done so much as I didn't do it when given the opportunity.

Which is my point.

When you've got a lot of down time it's tempting to just resign yourself to a lifestyle of procrastination.  After all, there's always tomorrow right?

So isn't it strange that when our lives are consumed with the demands of career and family that what we wish for the most is free time.  Then when we have it, we squander it.

It's human nature to adapt to our environment so it's no surprise that when we're busy we tend to stay that way and when we're not...

Newton's third law comes into play here.  Just as it's hard to stop a speeding train without a lot of effort the same can be said for getting it going.

The problem is that trains aren't people and while the long term effects of a train sitting idle can be corrected rather quickly, idle people take a bit more of a push.

It's far too easy to just lie around and put things off.  After awhile we go from relaxation to atrophy.

That's not a good thing.  The deeper we descend into inaction the more dire the consequences.  Things pile up and as they do you feel worse about them.

The distance between disappointment and depression is dangerously small.  Like anything else a condition left untreated won't improve on its own.

So I'd suggest that instead of bringing that train to a stop to watch the weeds grow around it that you at least try to keep it in motion even if you can't crank it up to full throttle.

Speaking of weeds, I bet there's some that need pulling or a floor that needs washing.  It doesn't matter what you do so long as your engaged with something other than your sofa.

I've seen it in myself and my friends.  That awful limbo between jobs or projects can work on you like an ice cube on a hot sidewalk. 

So if you're an IT guy maybe it's time to populate one of those VM's with the latest Linux distro.  Turn wrenches for a living?  I'm positive there's a neighbor that could use some help.  Maybe even deal with those weeds that mock you as you try to enjoy your morning coffee.  No matter what you do, the simple act of doing it pays dividends that far surpass the task.

The only people who are meant to do nothing spend all their time in a box, they're called corpses.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

TWIT: slow motion suicide

My aunt had a favorite phrase when someone kept vacillating over a fairly obvious decision.

"Shit or get off the pot"

Now I admit, I may be "slightly" under the influence of something as I compose this but it only served to release the diamond that I had been forming in my posterior...

TWIT either needs to admit its positioning itself for takeover (aka: oblivion) or admit they've screwed up the last 4 years and do a 180.

Look, TWIT is in a slow decline and frankly nothing ever changes for the better there.  Yay! Marketing Mavericks is finally gone but it took a damned year to figure out that it was a flawed concept to begin with.  GameOn! was dead in 3 months...

I mean, did anyone in their right mind really want to hear about the triumphs of the very scum whose endeavors brought about a million dollar industry of ad blocking apps?

There are very few shows I have even a passing interest in on TWIT anymore and the latest episode of Windows Weekly was one of them.

That was until episode #411 when instead of scintillating Microsoft Build news I got left field commentary from Laporte and Thurrott fueled by craft beer and Bourbon.  All the while Mary Jo Foley desperately tried to reign in some measure of content to no avail.  Even special guests like Dr. Pizza couldn't do any more than repeat the same diatribe over and over again.

Truth be told, around 3PM I was far more interested in today's episode of Star Trek ( the original series ) and after an hour and a half of non-content from the "special" Windows Weekly I'd had enough.  Yes, it was so bad that a 40+ year old rerun of a TV show I've seen a dozen times was of far more importance than news of the latest Windows release.

C'mon, have we lost all respect for the time the few fans of TWIT invest in its mediocre content?

Now we have a new controversy hot on the heels of dissing yet another popular TWIT host, Chad Johnson.  I'm not even going to touch the whole Giz Wiz, Dick DeBartolo thing. 

It seems there may be some question as to the legality of The New Screen Savers in the person of one NBC/Universal who have apparently sent a "cease and desist" letter to TWIT over infringement of their copyright.  

On this point I agree that NBC's assertion of copyright is an example of the worst aspects of copyright.  I mean, who the hell cares about a bunch of outdated content from a decade ago that the current "owner" has shoved so far down the rat hole that they can't even find all of it.

But I digress.  This isn't about any shared views I may have with TWIT over flawed copyright laws.  Even in this small moment of reason, TWIT's position falls to just another manifestation of an over inflated ego.

Yeah, it's obvious, I read today and discovered a few more gems and while it's really nothing I should be concerned about, nonetheless, I am.

You see, TWIT as it is now is the very representation of failing upward.

Instead of succeeding on your merits, it seems TWIT's "business" plan is predicated on doing everything but capitalizing on what it used to do best.  That being to provide informative content.

I'm so damned tired of "bubble boys" who exist only to feed their own egos. 

They are the leeches of a civilized society.  They exist to feed but contribute nothing to its advancement.  When ego, greed and hubris are the only end there can be no humility. 

To those who say I should just drop it, I say you're naiveté may be cute but it's getting a bit old.  TWIT, Leo Laporte and all the rest mean nothing in the greater societal consciousness but your acceptance of its relevance without critical review is dangerous.

If all a popular figure needs to do is play with some gadgets and have a silky smooth radio voice to sway you what else will you fall for.

Engage critical thinking and put the troll to bed.  Do this in all things and maybe the evil world you constantly seek to save will actually start to improve.